The United States is temporarily closing its embassy in Yemen amid political deadlock and deteriorating security conditions after the takeover of the country by Houthi fighters, the State Department said.
Diplomats were being evacuated from the country on Tuesday and that the embassy will suspend operations until conditions improve, according to a statement issued Tuesday night.
"Recent unilateral actions disrupted the political transition process in Yemen, creating the risk that renewed violence would threaten Yemenis and the diplomatic community in Sana’a," the statement said. Sana’a is Yemen's capital.
Yemen has been in crisis for months, with Houthi fighters besieging the capital and then taking control.
Marines providing security at the embassy will also likely leave, said officials who spoke on condition of anonimity because they were not authorized to discuss the closure on the record, but American forces conducting missions in other parts of the country will not be affected.
Earlier on Tuesday, Maj. Brad Avots, a Pentagon spokesman, would say only that the Defense Department is always assessing security conditions on the ground and the military has evacuation assets available if they are requested by the State Department.
The U.S. Embassy in Yemen is the third in an Arab country that has closed since the turmoil of the Arab Spring began in December 2010. The other two were in Damascus, Syria, which was closed in Feb 2012, and Tripoli, Libya, which was closed in July 2014.
The embassy in Yemen was operating with only a small portion of its usual diplomatic staff and had closed to the public for all but emergency services in January. It had been operating with reduced manpower since September 2014, when the State Department ordered all nonessential personnel to leave the country.
In May 2014 the embassy in Sanaa was closed for several for several weeks because of heightened security threats.
The Associated Press